The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg scored the first post-impeachment interview with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman on Monday and asked what he described as the “key question”: “Does he believe that Trump is an asset of Russian intelligence?”
Vindman’s answer largely regurgitates left-wing conspiracy theories about Russian influence (original emphasis):
“President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin,” he says. Useful idiot is a term commonly used to describe dupes of authoritarian regimes; fellow traveler, in Vindman’s description, is a person who shares Putin’s loathing for democratic norms.
But do you think Russia is blackmailing Trump? “They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don’t have to use it,” he says. “They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin.”
Vindman continues, “In the Army we call this ‘free chicken,’ something you don’t have to work for—it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken.”
Goldberg, who described Vindman as an “idealist,” also took him on a tour of the Watergate building in Washington, DC, to drive home the apparent parallels.
Goldberg did not appear to ask Vindman about his role in informing the so-called “whistleblower” in the impeachment trial (“A whistleblower shared details of the call,” he wrote).
Washington Examiner columnist Byron York told Fox News last week that Vindman had to be the “original source” for the “whistleblower” complaint: he was the only person who listened to President Donald Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine who thought there was anything wrong with it, and admitted telling a member of the “intelligence community.”
NBC News will also air an interview of Vindman on Monday evening, conducted by Lester Holt.
Goldberg, the Atlantic‘s editor-in-chief, was also responsible for a story earlier this month claiming that Trump had referred to dead World War I soldiers as “suckers” and “losers.” He cited four anonymous sources. The story has been disputed by more than twenty people on the record.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.